Effective communication. That simple phrase can mean so many things given various situations. In relationships, it means being open with your partner. In business meetings, it means capturing the attention and minds of your audience. But for professional athletes and esports players, effective communication can be the difference between being a good player and being a superstar.
Traditional sports athletes have largely figured this out. While you still have athletes like Russell Westbrook incessantly answering report questions with “Next question.” Many other athletes have risen above their skill level by being an interesting and unique quote. There are ten players like Nick Young in the NBA, but only one Swaggy P. That comes down to effective communication.
In esports, there is a disconnect. Many players face a language barrier, but even more have no interest in talking with the media. That means that most times we hear esports players voices, it is coming through Twitch clips, and very rarely is that in a positive connotation.
At Esportz Network we are building a media training curriculum for collegiate esports programs called Esportz Pro. The goal of the curriculum is to help prospective esports players improve their communication before they move forward with their career. One core tenant of the program is Orai. A communications coach app, Orai uses artificial intelligence to improve communication in a variety of ways.
“If you’ve won a big competition, the next step is telling your story, crafting your narrative,” said Danish Dhamani, the founder and CEO of Orai. “There will be a bunch of interviewers who come up to your doorstep and they will want to know all about you. If you can articulate yourself in a confident and executive manner you are set up for growth. That is what Orai teaches.”
In esports, many kids are flung into the spotlight. In traditional sports, there is a steady path through high school media, college media and finally the pros. In esports, players are basically unknown before they get thrust onto the biggest stages. That means many don’t know where to start with media relations.
Orai helps by taking away a lot of the pressure associated with traditional media interactions. At a podium with a microphone in your face, it is natural to be thrown off a bit. In-person media training can build out practice scenarios but Orai is the consistent coaching and experience people need to succeed. Plus, by having players seek out the training in their own time, they are a more engaged audience.
“This is something that has traditionally been done in a classroom,” Dhamani explained. “With the latest advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning has allowed us to actually understand and comprehend human speech. The outcome is helping people become more confident and more effective communicators.”
So why is it important to communicate with the media?
In short, money. Having a well-timed feature piece could bring a new esports organization to your door. Or entice a brand to want to sign you to an endorsement deal. Brands want players who are effective and good communicators, who also won’t place the brand in a bad light.
Being a good quote who appears in headlines drives up your value, but one misstep and that comes tumbling down. Many esports players avoid talking to the media because they see more negatives than positives. That opens the door for confident communicators to become media darlings and reap the rewards.
We have seen it in traditional sports constantly, but esports is still working towards that point. With more tools like Orai and more esports organizations and colleges putting an increased focus on improving media relations, future stars will be borne behind the podium.